Let's take a walk through the most emblematic parts of the Citadel of Almería, a monument with a history spanning more than a thousand years.
In 955 AD, Abd-ar-Rahman III, the first caliph of Al-Andalus, granted Almería city (madina) status and ordered the construction of the citadel, the Great Mosque and the fortification of the urban area between the fortress and the seashore. Under his protection, Almería became the most important port in Al-Andalus, the seat of the Omeya fleet, with great warships being built in its shipyards.
The excellent natural and strategic conditions of the place enabled sailors and traders to settle there.
Muslim texts describe Almería as the best market in Muslim Spain. Muslim merchants from Egypt and Syria moored in its port as did Christian traders from France and Italy. It developed substantially both economically and culturally in the 11th century as a center for trading relations with the Maghreb and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Its development was interrupted by the first Christian occupation of the city (1147-1157), causing a decline from which it has never since recovered.
Ten years later, the Almohad rulers settled in the citadel and tried to reinvigorate the city’s development but it never regained its former splendor.
During the Nasrid period, Almería became a port of call for goods destined for the Kingdom of Granada and work began on rehabilitating the city’s palace district.
As a result of Aragon’s expansionist policy in the Mediterranean, in 1489 El Zagal [the Nasrid Sultan of Granada] ceded the city to King Ferdinand and took the citadel, establishing a garrison there. At that point, it was decided to create another fortified area on the highest and most westerly part of the hill to fulfill the city’s new defensive needs.
From then on, the sea which had served to unite the two shores became a dangerous frontier where attacks by pirates were frequent.
Although today it appears to be a garden, in Medieval times the first section was occupied by a tangled web of streets and houses, as recorded by the archaeological digs carried out there.
Some archaeological remains have been conserved, including a hydraulic system consisting of a well, a cistern, and a waterwheel which raised water from a depth of 70 meters in order to supply the area.
In this section we can visit the following: a cistern dating from the time of the caliphate – the 10th century – and the Mudéjar Hermitage of St. John – by that time a Christian building probably constructed on top of an earlier mosque.
As you can see in the illustration, this same area contains some recently excavated Nasrid houses.
Francisco Prieto-Moreno, architect and conservator of the Alhambra and the citadels of Malaga and Almería, worked in the complex until 1970, carrying out various operations with the aim of finding archaeological objects and other remains of architectonic structures in the area of the palace. The result of that romantic notion is what is known as the House of the Alcaide [Governor] and the courtyard in the second section.
This video gives us a brief history of the Muslim city of Almería.
There were three fundamental reasons for the construction of this castle: to resolve the city’s defensive problems because of the lamentable state into which the old fortress had fallen, to fulfill its new military requirements with the development of artillery and, above all, to create an emblematic image representative of the newly established Christian authority.
The castle is assembled around the main courtyard, at the center of which lies a cistern and a silo that was sometimes used as a dungeon. The Torre del Homenaje [Homage Tower] dominates the right-hand side, followed by the Noria and Pólvora Towers, offering splendid views over the port and various old pieces of artillery.
The historic citadel: a walk through a millenarian fortress
Conjunto Monumental de la Alcazaba de Almería
Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucia